As you know, I have lots of kids. And when people find out that I have six kids, I receive one of two responses:
1. “God BLESS you!” (This can either mean “Wow! That’s AWESOME!”, or “I really hope God DOES bless you, because you’ll need it.”
2. “How do you DO it??”
I have a variety of answers to that, depending on my mood. But the truth of it is, like other moms with less kids, I do the best I can. I muddle through- some things work, some don’t. I adapt and re-adapt. I cry. I scream. I swear under my breath. On good days, when things are going well,
I’m June Cleaver. The house is clean, and smells wonderful. Children are doing what they’re told. The laundry is up-to-date, dinner is already cooking, homework is completed, and quiet peaceful children are coloring while awaiting the imminent arrival of The Captain from work.
Some days are like that. And other days, there’s milk on the floor (EVERY day, actually), too many dishes in the sink, too much work to do, a waft of dirty diaper aroma in the air, and I feel more like this:
But because a lot of you have asked this question, I thought I’d share some of the things that we do in our home that work for us. I’ll share some of the organizational methods we use, & save some of the routine aspects for another post.
So… how do we do what we do?
1. HOUSEHOLD BIBLE:
I used to be awash in paperwork, and it was a struggle to manage it all effectively. So I bought a big binder, a hole puncher, and dividers. The dividers are labeled by each person’s name, and everything from take-out menus, to car maintenance records, to electrician contracts, etc. This is the go-to for class lists, vaccination records, and all the other nonsense that comes with having lots of kids.
2. CHORE CHART:
I used to do everything around the house. I mean, every last thing. And it came to a point where kids kept coming, and dishes kept coming, and laundry kept coming… and I was spending too much time compensating around the house & not enough time with the kids. Plus, I wanted the kids to have a sense of accountability- it’s YOUR house as well, & you should be a part of it’s maintenance, you know?
So I created a chore chart. I bought a large dry erase board from Staples, & markered columns onto it. Using Avery printer labels, I printed out the list of household tasks, and placed them onto bits of magnet that came on a roll. The benefit to using magnets is that I can change the assignments on a daily basis. I find this effective because by varying up the type of chore each child does, he/she doesn’t tend to get bored with the monotony of the same task day after day.
3. CONTROL CENTER:
This is a crucial part of keeping things together. I buy the same wall calendar year after year because it’s big enough to note each person’s activities/appointments in color coded Sharpie. The dry erase board below is used as a reminder for shopping items, pressing To Do tasks, etc. Let’s put it this way: if it’s not in the Control Center, it doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t get done.
This is a BEAST in our house. To me, laundry, as I’ve mentioned, is the most difficult job to keep a firm handle on. That being so, I’ve found that the best way to keep it under control is to place a hamper in each bedroom of the house, and in the downstairs bathroom.
The different bins are then collected as a chore by whoever is assigned to the task. A lot of the time I handle the actual washing and drying of the clothes, but the two oldest girls now help as well. Once the laundry is folded, it is placed on a rack next to the dryer- each child has an area that is labeled by name. Each child then picks up their clothes when the chore chart indicates that they have clean laundry.
For any parent that has stepped on a Lego in the middle of the night & lost the will to live, well… I’ve been there, too. My kids are the type that would take every last puzzle, Lego set, book, etc, and would dump them all over the room. This is painful for someone who craves cleanliness and order. Larger toys get stored on a rack. For tiny toys, I printed out paper labels for each type of toy (ex.- Doctor Kit, Little People, etc) and grouped them in small colorful bins.
It kept the toys together, until the kids picked up the bins and threw the toys on the floor. And I stepped on them. Again. And again.
The solution? (I have to credit The Captain on this one)
6. STORAGE CABINETS:
They are placed behind the bar in our basement. And I have the key on my key ring, like a prison matron. All the kids have to do is ask for what toy/set they want, and I retrieve it for them. They can play with anything they like, as long as they put the original toys back first. Almost like loaning out a library book, except there are no cards, no fees, & I smile a lot more. This keeps small pieces off the floor, which benefits both teething, crawling infants, and tender parental feet.
7. RANDOM JUNK BIN:
You know how kids manage to drag random crap from all corners of the house that end up in your living room, usually two minutes before company arrives? Ours did that, too. An easy solution was the junk bin. Yup. Just a plain white bin, placed out of sight next to the china cabinet. Any random item goes in there. And at the end of the day, returning the junk to it’s rightful place is a chore on the chart. And one less annoying thing for me to do.
8. DVDS/Wii GAMES:
We used to love buying DVDs; that is, until every single one would end up scratched because the kids would get their grubby little hands on them. I told you what a struggle the Wii used to be, but this was starting to cost us serious cash. And there’s nothing worse than grabbing a DVD & chortling, “Hey kids, let’s watch a movie!” and facing the silence of a non-working DVD, accompanied by the squeals of rage and anguish. Our solution:
Lock ’em up.
Our front coat closet doubles as a makeshift Blockbuster, without the late fees. All of our movies and electronic games are kept in there. The same policy as the storage bins applies here: you are welcome to any game or movie, as long as the original one comes back. It keeps them in better condition, prevents them from getting lost, & again- that teething infant will bite ANYTHING.
9. CRAFT/SCHOOL SUPPLIES:
Ugh. I hate this stuff, I really do. But it’s essential. I got tired of things being lost, transported to rooms, etc. This was just a lucky break; our china cabinet has two drawers that have three slots apiece for fancy silverware. (Like we OWN fancy silverware…?) We don’t.
But instead of fancy silverware, each slot holds each child’s supplies: their own pens, pencils, small crayon box, scissors, pencil sharpener. They know it’s theirs, so they are way more careful with it. And as far as markers, paints, etc.- those are kept in big Tupperware bins on the top shelf of my closet, and are only pulled out after much begging and pleading. (And if you’re a parent, you GET THIS.)
Each kid has their own section, with their own supplies (thanks, Dollar Tree- cheap!)
10. LIBRARY BOOKS:
I need to add this to the list, because I will confess to you right now that prior to addressing this, I’m pretty sure we paid enough overdue fine money to buy a year’s worth of food for the library gerbils. It was … BAD. Shameful. The solution was to install a cheap plastic bins underneath my control center, so that once a book is ready to be returned, it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle (each child with a library card has a slot). Let the gerbils go hungry!
So in a (BIG) nutshell, this is some of the stuff that keeps me sane. Well, this and coffee. Lots of coffee. Seriously. And next time, I’ll share some of our household routines. Then it’s back to sharing all of the nutty, chaotic things that go wrong lest I get too confident in this parenting business. 🙂© Copyright 2014 Six Pack Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: Six Pack Mom